Derek Miller – Bio
District 4 Candidate
Nominated by committee
Primary Residence: 1225 Trianon Drive
Phone: (907) 978-1360
Years in Alaska: 40 years
Occupation/Employer: Executive Officer, College of Engineering & Mines, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Education: BBA Management & Organizations, UAF (2003); MBA Capital Markets, UAF (2011); Executive Doctorate in High Education Management (Ed.D), University of Pennsylvania (expected 2021)
Personal interests/hobbies: Spending time with my family and two young sons. Family movie and game nights are especially fun. I also enjoy reading, keeping up on higher education policy, state fiscal policy, and a good cup of coffee.
Organization affiliation: Fairbanks Interior Community Health Center, Board Member & Treasurer (2016-current); Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, Government Relations Committee (2012-2016; 2020 – current); and GVEA Membership Advisory Committee, former member (2010-2013).
Special interest/Community service: The economic future of our community is particularly important to me. The high cost of energy – specifically electricity and space heat – are economic challenges Fairbanks residents and businesses face every day. Addressing the high cost of energy has been a top priority of several business and community organizations I’ve been actively involved with over the last decade, including the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation and the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.
Meet the Candidate Q&A
Why are you interested in running for a seat on GVEA’s board?
I understand the economic impact electricity costs have on families and businesses – I pay my monthly electric bill and own rental property in Fairbanks. I’m confident good economic things will happen for our community if we work to maintain low energy costs. While I support GVEA’s goal to reduce its carbon output by 26 percent by the year 2030, maintaining safe, reliable, low-cost power will be my #1 priority as a GVEA board member. It’s important GVEA incorporate renewable energy where it makes sense, but we must not do so at the expense of reliability or significant increased costs to our member ratepayers. I look forward to the opportunity to address the high cost of energy as a member of the GVEA board.
What business, technical and governance knowledge, skills and experiences will you bring to GVEA’s Board of Directors?
I was born in Fairbanks and have lived my entire life in this community. My wife and I are now raising our two young boys here. I’m a graduate of Lathrop High School and earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees from UAF.
My background is in business, government, and finance. After graduating from UAF, I served as a legislative aide in Juneau for five years. The experience was invaluable. For the last ten years, I’ve worked in various capacities at UAF. My current position is Executive Officer for the UAF College of Engineering & Mines. I will bring significant supervisory and management experience to the GVEA board. I also have long-time affiliations with several community organizations including the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation, Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, and Interior Community Health Center to name a few.
As a director, I will bring a pragmatic, business-oriented approach to GVEA decision making.
What do you perceive as your role and responsibilities as a GVEA Director?
The job of GVEA director is not to get caught up in the minutia of the day-to-day management of the utility. That is best left to the president and his/her capable leadership team. Rather, a director’s role is to focus on high-level, strategic decision-making for the cooperative. As an elected utility board member, it will also be my role to serve in the best interest of district 4 GVEA members; to listen and communicate both to my constituents and to GVEA leadership.
What specific things would you like to accomplish as a GVEA Director?
As a director, I would first strive to address GVEA’s aging power generation infrastructure. To accomplish this, I would look to hold management to account with regard to implementation of an asset management system and reliability centered maintenance program as stated in GVEA’s 2020-21 strategic directives.
Second, I would seek to take advantage of the current political realities – particularly at the federal level – that might enable GVEA to incorporate large-scale renewable energy projects into GVEA’s power generation portfolio in a manner that doesn’t negatively impact ratepayers. Whether you agree or disagree with the current federal administration, there’s no denying that the moment presents an opportunity for GVEA to work closely with Alaska’s federal delegation to advance potential projects that will allow GVEA to achieve its goal of reducing its carbon output (again, in a way that does not negatively impact ratepayers).
What do you think should be GVEA’s energy goals and objectives?
GVEA’s number one goal should be to act in a manner that does not adversely impact rates or reliability. The COVID-19 pandemic has already put a strain on our local economy. Now is not the time for our local electrical cooperative to advance projects that take more out of your back pocket in order to keep the lights on.
I’m a fiscal conservative but am open-minded about incorporating renewable energy into GVEA’s generation portfolio. GVEA’s stated goal of reducing its carbon output by 26% by 2030 is laudable. We must aim to accomplish that goal in a manner that doesn’t cause your monthly bill to go up or put you at risk of leaving you in the dark. GVEA should not pursue large-scale renewable energy projects if those two criteria cannot be met.
What would you do to position GVEA for the future?
It will be imperative that GVEA continue to work with the six interconnected railbelt utilities on the Railbelt Reliability Council (RRC) to address railbelt-wide electric system issues. There is strength in numbers. The RRC will help member utilities ensure grid resilience and reduce costs.
Second, while it remains to be seen what exactly will play out in Washington, DC, it’s clear there is congressional interest to invest in infrastructure. GVEA must be prepared to take advantage of federal action in this regard.